3 Naughty Dog Behaviors and How to Fix Them

By Sarah Hinds Friedl on January 30th, 2024

Your dog is your world! A sweet little angel sent to make your days more cuddly and bright. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t act out from time to time. 

If you’ve been dealing with a few naughty dog behaviors, this article is for you! We’re covering three of the most common and easily addressed behaviors that will make everyday life with your dog more enjoyable for the both of you!

Leash pulling and biting
Most dogs don’t instinctively know how to walk on a leash. And that can lead to common problems like pulling, zigzagging, trying to wriggle out of their harness and biting the leash.

Here are a few steps that you can take to make leash walking more successful:

  • Start at home. There will be far fewer distractions in your living room than at the park, which means that it will be easier to teach your dog the fundamentals of leash walking.
  • Take a few steps and give your dog a treat. This will teach your dog to regularly check in with you and not stray too far. Always make sure to give your dog a treat from the same side of your body. This should cut down on zigzagging behavior.
  • Move to a larger area. Once you’ve got the hang of walking around your home, it’s time to take it outside. When your dog starts to pull, stop in your tracks and call them back to you. When they loop back to you, praise them, walk a few more steps and then give them the treat. This gives them the message that walking at your pace is what gives them the reward. Do this every single time your pup pulls on the leash! 
  • To deal with leash biting, use a similar approach. Dogs may bite the leash out of frustration, pent up energy, or because they think it’s a game. So, when it happens, don’t engage by tugging on the leash. Instead, stop walking and have them do a command such as sit or lie down. And when they’re calm, take a few steps and reward them with a treat.

Leash walking problems have fairly simple solutions. But they require lots of repetition, consistency, and delicious treats!

Jumping up on people
Jumping up is a natural behavior in dogs, especially when they’re happy and excited. But, it can be dangerous, no matter if you have a small dog or a 100 lb German Shepherd. So, here’s how you can fix it:

  • Start by turning down the excitement level. Many dogs jump up when they’re excited to see you after you’ve been gone or you have a guest over. Until your dog has stopped the jumping behavior, try to keep these interactions as neutral and even boring as possible. 
  • Have your dog do something else. Doing something is always going to be easier for your dog than not doing something. Which is why having an alternative command, like “sit” or “lie down” is a good way to redirect your dog’s attention. Once they’re sitting, then you or your houseguest can approach and offer them a reward or affection. 
  • Don’t reward the jumping. The moment that your dog starts jumping again, immediately stop giving them attention and turn away from them. With repetition, they’ll learn that sitting gets them the results they want faster than jumping.

Attention seeking barking
Like leash pulling and jumping up, barking is a natural instinct for dogs! They often do it because it’s the most obvious way they can think of to communicate with their favorite human. So, instead of getting upset or yelling at them, try the following steps:

  • Make sure their needs are met. Teaching your dog not to demand bark will be much easier if you’re absolutely sure they’re getting the right amount of daily exercise and mental stimulation. So, as you start with this training, consider also upping their playtime.

Remember! You can keep your energetic dog safe and sound in the car on the way to the dog park by installing BreezeGuards on your windows! 

  • Become very good at ignoring your dog. Demand barking persists because at one point or another, it worked. Even if you got angry and yelled at your dog, they received attention, which was the goal. So, when your dog starts up, do your best to ignore it completely. You might even need to calmly remove yourself from the room.
  • Reward them for being quiet. Eventually, your dog is going to stop barking, even if it’s only momentarily to catch their breath. In this moment, offer them some verbal praise and a treat. You might also introduce a command like “quiet.” With enough repetition, they’ll learn that when they bark, they don’t get attention or treats. But when they stop, they do!
  • Reinforce calm behavior. Throughout the day, you can teach your dog that they’ll get attention and praise when they’re calm. For instance, when your pup is taking a nap, sprinkle a few bits of kibble next to them so that they associate a calm state with rewards.

A note on what’s not covered here
In this article, we’ve covered minor behavior problems that can be fixed with a short-term training plan. But, you may be wondering why we didn’t focus on more prevalent and pressing problems such as separation anxiety, reactivity, or resource guarding. The reason is that these types of behaviors require more intensive intervention plans that would ideally be overseen by a certified dog behaviorist. So, if you’re struggling with one or more of these problems, reach out to an expert who can offer in-person training.

You and your pup can coexist more peacefully with some simple training techniques!
You’ll be amazed at how quickly your dog drops some of their most annoying habits when you implement these training measures. Remember that repetition and consistency are key when trying to replace your dog’s natural instincts with new behaviors. So stick with it, be patient, and celebrate the small wins!

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